|Beer beer the beautiful fruit the more you drink the more you...forget?
So Oktoberfest is a hazy magical memory. Definitely one of my top experiences on this trip, I know I will be talking about my Oktoberfest experience for a long long time.
Britt and I had to get a pretty horrible bus ride to Munich that didn't get in till 5pm. The bus smelt like a big fart. After engorging ourselves into a kebab, we got the tram to The Tent, which is where we stayed in Munich for Oktoberfest. It's a very popular camping spot in Munich, you can set up your own tent or you can book a bed or floor space in the big tents that they have. We had to bring our own tent that we bought in Dresden as the main tents were booked out. When we arrived we straight away saw Sam and Rich, but our other friend Rob and his friend Ants were no where to be seen. They arrived much earlier than all of us so they had already set up the boys tent, but we didn't know where and we wanted to be close to the others so we waited for a bit to see if he would turn up. After missed calls, texts gone un-replied and the sun starting to set, we gave up the wait game and set up our tent. It was fairly easy, but it looked really small, especially with our huge bags taking up body room. It also had this awkward door flap that made you look like Ace Ventura birthing out of the rhinoceros when you tried to get out. We also realised we didn't have sleeping bags or mats....looks like clothes mat and pillow. Thank god for thermals.
We hung out at the picnic tables, getting dinner that they have at the canteen at the site and having a welcoming 1/2 litre beer that they sell there. It was a little taste of what was to come. At this point I'm a little nervous as before this trip I had never even had a bottle of beer, but on the trip I've been trying to get myself used to it, having a beer with dinner now and then. Only now am I getting used to the taste without wanting to gag. Luckily the beer in Germany is good quality and I actually find myself enjoying it. At least the beer warms my belly as the temperature drops at night, turning freezing which makes Britt and I nervous for our sleep ahead. As we watch drunken men stumble back in from the festival, barely making it a metre before they fall back down, Rob and Ants stumble in with them. We figured they were at the festival getting merry and they proved us right. It was so weird to see our good mate Rob again, we hadn't seen him since February as he has been in Bristol working at a camp which is where he met Ants. So you can bet it was a very happy reunion between us all long time friends. They told us about the craziness of the festival, how Rob already puked twice and just catching up on general things.
I prepped my bed best I could, covered my sleeping space in clothes to act as a buffer, put clothes in the tent bag as a pillow. Then I layered myself in thermals, socks, beanie, jumper and pj pants. I then got in my silk sheet sleeping bag and put clothes over the top. Then I realised...I needed to pee. Son of a bitch! The toilet was like 200m away. No way. So I say with very little exaggeration and 100% certainty that it was the worst, coldest night of my life. I thought I was going to die, I was just convulsing from the constant freezing fit I was having all night. And the worst part was there was nothing I could do. It felt like I was lying naked outside in the antarctic, I have never experienced such pain. I vowed that we would never do that again and we would either buy or steal some blankets.
As you do when camping we got woken up early as the sun came out but I actually rejoiced it. I finally went to the bathroom and got an hours sleep as the tent warmed up a bit before we went to get breakfast from the canteen. I got coffee to wake me up, a roll, a pastry, half a liter of chocolate milk and a pear. I wanted I nice full stomach before a full day of drinking.
We all decided that we wanted to get dressed up in lederhosen and dirndls, get right into the festivities. So we all marched off to the tram, not buying a ticket (we never bought a ticket the whole time we were there, yeah I know crazy stuff). Rob and Ants "found" Owen, as they put it, a kiwi staying at the tent as well, so he joined the group. We went all the way into Munich and began trolling department store after department store. Prices ranged from 60-150 euros....yeah not going to spend that much so we kept looking, hoping to find a hidden bargain somewhere. The 4th store in Britt and I found 2 matching dresses, marked down from 130 euros to 29 euros. Score! And they weren't that ugly either. It didn't come with an under top thing but I had a white t-shirt that would work, unfortunately Britt's was too small so we couldn't match. But I ended up getting my dress and a bandana for 38 euros. Mission complete. Now the others just needed there's. Britt ended up finding a cheap kids costume, one advantage of being able to fit into kids clothes, the boys got suspenders, rolled up their pants and got cheap shirts...women's shirts equip with shoulder pads and boob room hahah we looked simply amazing. I was so excited to get back and get dressed up, for some reason it made things 10 times more fun and exciting. We were getting right into the part, doing our best German impersonations "Nein schnitzel!!". We took advantage of the 2.50 euro 1/2 liter beer at our place and got started before we moved onto full liter beers in the festival. It was nice and hot, sun was shining for the festival which is why the festival is mostly in September...just for better weather.
We got into the festival by 4pm. There is heaps of people dressed up walking to the festival. It's pretty surreal when you turn the corner and you see the big Oktoberfest sign. You feel like such a big kid. Surprising it's not all just about beer, there is lots of other family orientated stuff, it's a fun filled day for the family! But we're here for the beer. Huge tents line the festival area, each selling different brands of beer but all get you the same result.
We had heard how tough it was to get in tents, there's heaps of people, lines and most people have reserved tables. We walked right into the HB tent which was known as the International tent aka the "Australian/New Zealand" tent. When you first walk into one of these tents your jaw is guaranteed to drop. The amount of people in these huge tents, singing, dancing, yelling, cheers-ing is a sight that assaults all of your senses. You instinctively stop and kind of want to take a step back it's so crazy, takes a bit of courage to throw yourself into the mess. We managed to find a table quite quick and a lady got our beers so fast. These waitresses have fingers like biceps. The steins are a two-hand job for me they're so heavy, they can carry more than 5 in one hand! I tried with all our steins, made it 5cm off the table and bruised my hand. So yeah they definitely had my respect.
The first sip of bravarian beer, went down nice in the heat. I actually paced myself through it without much trouble, I kept up with the boys which is why I didn't need much more after that. This beer is a much higher percentage than usual and its a freaking LITRE!! My body was not ready for it. We were very merry, but we had to move because the table was reserved for 5pm. We ended up wandering the festival, we sat in a beer garden for a bit before tent jumping trying to find a table. We ended up standing in the walkway of a tent, off to the side so we weren't in the way. Worst thing you could do is get one of the waiters/waitresses/bringers of beer's way. I got bruised ribs because an old beer maid rammed her massive handful of steins into my back yelling German to get me out of the way. Bitch came out of nowhere but still I just left wondering how some 50 year old lady could handle carrying 12+ steins at once.
They served us more beer in the walkway, a whole bunch of stuff happened that I only know about from looking at pictures the next day. But we were having the time of our lives, it couldn't get any better, surrounded by good friends making golden memories that we would only remember through classic photos. For example a boy who could only be around 12 came up with a g-string asking if it was ours....how did he get in here? And how did he et that? Random. We sung the traditional German songs that were playing and
smashed our steins together yelling "Proste!", we walked around at night laughing and just being young rascals.
We all got a take away half a chicken for dinner, walking around with half a chicken in paper in one hand and a wooden fork ripping into the delicious flesh in the other. I don't know how I managed to not drop mine. We realised we weren't going to get a table so we headed back on the tram at 9:30 . Pretty solid effort for our first day.
Britt and I vowed that we weren't going through last night again so we ninja'd into the main tent where the sleepers are distributed as many blankets as they want. People who have their own tent can't hire blankets, you can't even pay to have one...trust me I asked. So we were forced to resort to petty theft. They had a sign saying "every blanket we find in your tent we fine 10 euros"....I call bullshit so we went in the main tent under the guise that we needed something from our locker, big enough that we needed to bring a backpack...it was real smooth. In, kneel next to the locker, swipe a blanket and stuff it into the bag, cover up with subtle conversation "oh yes I'm glad we brought the backpack to get your laptop" "yes! much easier to carry it in...", stealth out into the shadows to our tent, dump, lock the tent (yeah how you gonna get in there now) and repeat. We had a much warmer sleep that night.
The second day we planned to go in earlier. So after a shower that felt like bullets and a breeze that blew about the curtain so someone could of got an eye-full at any point. We got in our gear and then our friends Mili and Casey arrived, we got reacquainted and then left telling them just to text us when they got in. We went in at about 11:30am this time, we wanted to get a table and just try and stay on it for as long as possible. We managed to find a table for all of us in a beer garden, out in the sun which made the beer much more refreshing. Mili and Casey turned up a few hours in and we had a jolly big group. We made friends with manchester fanatics from the table across from us, hid our steins that had a cool design under our feet to try and sneak them out later and got the best lunch ever. It was 12 euros but it was part of the experience and a local told us that the half chickens from the tents are 10 times better. So we did and sweet lord was it worth it! We ate every bit to the bone. Half a chicken seems to be the food of Oktoberfest for us. We stayed at that table for about 6 hours until we slowed down and stopped ordering so the waiter said he needed the table. We ninja'd out 4 steins passed 5 security guards, you become such a thief when you backpack. Then came our fatal mistake giving rob our steins to hide in bushes on the path back to the tram. We didn't want to lose them on a bag check going into a tent so he ran in his drunken state and hid them. Unsurprisingly he could only find 2 of the 4 on the way back and almost got sprung by coppers to which he covered saying he was looking for his watch...to which they started to help him look for...
The kicker is that we didn't even get our bags checked...
By 8 we had been at the festival or a long time, us girls had hit the wall as we went into this notoriously roudy tent that's not the best place for girls to go in. We felt uncomfortable and when Owen chipped a moon shaped chunk out of Robs stein that fell onto my thong clad feet and nicked it...game over. My foot is fine, the glass could of landed at a much worse angle and it would be a different story but luckily enough it didn't.
So we girls left and the boys stayed. We got toffee apples for the ride home yay!
Now at Oktoberfest we experienced many seedy old fat men leering at us and yelling out profanities. We got the "damn, ladies! *whistle* if I was young again"- sends a violent shiver of disgust down your spine but we did get a nice man that simply said "girls, I just want to say that you all look beautiful" and after all the vulgar comments we though this was the sweetest thing.
On the way back we also got informed by a young German girl that by tying the knots in our skirts in the middle it meant that we were widows, to the left is single and right married. So turns out I walked around Oktoberfest as a young widow....explains a lot of things...
When we got back to the site we sat around the bonfire and I watched my entertainment for the night of 2 Danish boys that were so drunk people were able to convince them it was the next morning. They had a train to get in the morning and they were freaking out trying to check out, but their other sober friend obviously knew it was 8:30pm at night but he couldn't convince them. They wouldn't believe him or anyone so they just yelled abuse at him for hours, people got involved pulling them aside and pointing to the stars, watches, calendars...it took hours to get through to them. It was like a live reality show, I loved it, if only I had popcorn. Oh the effects of beer.
Britt and I ended up stealing 2 more blankets and a mat. 50 euros worth of fines. We had the warmest night of them all. And we ninja'd the evidence back in the morning and they were none the wiser, smooth operators.
We had our last supper as a group that morning, taking a team photo and saying goodbye, Britt and I were splitting after 66 days straight together. She was going off with Sam for a bit and I was going to London to be on my own and with family for a bit. It was so strange to be parting ways after being with eachother 24/7 for so long.
Rob and Ants were on my flight to London that night so we planned to go in together. They went into the festival one last time whilst Casey, Mili and I did the new Europe walking tour around Munich. I would feel to guilty going all the way there and not actually see the city so that was a good thing to do and to kill time. It was interesting to see how different it was from Berlin.
Munich was a lot of lasts, last place using euros, last foreign language speaking country, last flight before my flight home, last place having to carry every single one of my possessions as I could dump stuff at my family's house. Soon enough I was back with Rob and Ants after waiting at the camp site watching the resident dog do mainys up the main path. We were on our journey over to London. So it was goodbye to a lot of things and hello to the last chapter of my trip in the UK!